Why I love my job.
On Christmas Eve, I will share with you my favorite story. About ten years ago, I represented an elderly 71 year old man who suffered tetraplegia (paralysis below the chest level) in a fall at a construction site. The 71 year old was a kind and gentle man who had his life turned upside down by the accident. Until the accident occurred, he had been everything to his wife in terms of fixing and doing things around their house and now, he was completely dependent on her like a child.
Everything that we take for granted was a chore for this man and his team of nurses, whether it be removing his urinary catheter to changing positions every two hours at night when he slept. Until you've lived a day with this man, it is difficult to appreciate how even the most routine daily activities, like changing your socks, posed a task for him and his team of nurses.
A few days before the trial, the lawsuit settled. The settlement ensured that our client and his wife would have guaranteed, monthly income to pay for his nursing and medical expenses for as long as he lived. Most importantly, he would not have to move to a nursing home or rehabilitation facility and could stay in the only place he ever wanted to be...at home with his wife. Everyone was happy and we went our separate ways.
I did not hear from my clients for roughly three years until I ran into their daughter at a convenience store in my hometown. The update that I received from their daughter was both depressing and uplifting. Instead of the usual exchange of pleasantries, our client's daughter blurted out, "thank you for what you've done for my parents." Of course, I appreciated the gratitude but the case had settled a while ago and the gratitude, I thought, was a little late. Then I found out why she was thanking me.
Our client's daughter told me that her mother had a massive stroke recently and was severely brain damaged and paralyzed from the stroke. Naturally, I expressed my sympathy. She then told me that the monthly annuity payments from the settlement were used to pay for a team of nurses for both her mother and father, who continued to live in their home, and that they received the best medical care possible. Most importantly, our clients continued to live in their home and they spent their remaining years together in the only place they ever wanted to be.
A few years later I learned from a friend that our client had died of pneumonia. At the funeral, I met our client's wife who I had been warned would likely have no memory of me as a result of her stroke. To my surprise, she thanked me for giving her five years with her husband in their home with the best possible medical care. Instead of being forced into facility or institutional care, they spent their remaining years together as husband and wife.
When someone asks me why I love my job, I tell them this story. The thrill of trial is not what makes me get up in the morning. It's the story of an elderly paralyzed couple from upstate New York who did more for me than I did for them.